My two majors, political science and journalism, compliment each other pretty well. It is far from an unheard combination, especially for someone who was always passionate about writing and current events. So, when I mention that I am also pursuing a minor, people assume that it is something that seems easily applicable to a career: maybe a language, or economics, or even something like leadership studies that employers seem to love.

This is actually not the case. I am minoring in piano performance, and I’d argue that doing so has benefitted me more than pursuing a more common minor.

In today’s ultra-competitive job market, it may seem like a waste to take piano lessons instead of learning more traditional skills. But I think it’s easy to forget that college is more than a degree-granting factory. Higher education is about learning first and foremost. I have always valued being a well-rounded person and limiting myself to only my main fields of study, and minors more directly connected to them, stifle that. And, while I suppose you could argue that I could use the credits I’m putting towards my minor towards electives in other fields, I think that it is more important to dedicate time to something you are interested in and will enjoy in the future over an elective course whose subject matter you’ll never think of ever again after taking.

I think that the more unconventional succeeds more in teaching me discipline than other fields. Contrary to popular belief, my lessons are a class. I practice for hours each week, preparing each piece or exercise, and I earn credits for my efforts. I think that employers will appreciate the dedication I put into my minor, and the work ethic I’ve gained from it has been applied to my other activities and academics. Piano lessons also teach critical thinking and logical reasoning that other minors could not. I must learn how the notes and dynamics fit so the music sounds right, and in addition, I also take more traditional music classes for my minor, such as a class titled “Music as a Form of Social Protest” next semester. Courses like these are more interdisciplinary in nature and compliment my other studies.

I would also like to share the simplest reason for my minor: why not? I’ve enjoyed playing piano for over 10 years. However, I am not interested in pursuing a full career in music education or performing, so pursuing a minor seemed like the most logical option. I wanted a way to maintain my skills and give myself a creative outlet. Music has helped me get through a lot before college and continues to this day.

To put it briefly, I believe that minoring in a seemingly useless minor has taught me skills that I can apply to any career while offering an escape when necessary.